Name: John Birney
Territory: Connecticut and New York
Education: Lynchburg College - B.A. in History & M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction
Johns Hopkins Start Date: August 2001
Why did you choose to enter the profession of College Admissions?: My original goal was to teach high school history. I found that the teaching profession wasn’t what I really enjoyed, but I enjoyed working with the students. Admissions combines the best of both worlds … I work with the population I enjoy, yet in the collegiate setting.
What is the most enjoyable part of reading college applications? And the least enjoyable part?: The most enjoyable part of reading applications is finding those "hidden gem" students; those that just put you in awe of their accomplishments. Conversely, the least enjoyable part is making the distinction between so many qualified candidates. A close second, is reading applications where students make simple, and avoidable, mistakes.
What is your personal approach to reading an application?: I used to read at home in my basement – which was ideal. I’m changing locales this year as my kids – Jack, 4 and Carter, 1.5, are at home and the house is no longer quiet. I first divide my files by academic area. I find it easier when I’m searching for a similar set of values in each file I read. I read the file from front to back - application, essays, transcript, and recommendations.
What is your favorite thing about Johns Hopkins University?: The athletic teams. As I work with all the coaches to recruit our teams, it’s wonderful to see that we field some of the best teams and have very competitive seasons. Fear the Blue Jay!
If working in College Admissions wasn't an option, what would you be doing as an occupation?: Captaining a charter fishing vessel, working in law enforcement, or laying on the beach.
In your personal opinion, what is the top issue facing the field of higher education currently?: “Admissions Creep.” A decade ago, students could wait until their senior year to visit schools and decide where to apply. Each year the pressure to decide gets greater and earlier. This creep only leads to the increased number of applications, declining admission rates, and stiffer competition (and worried students).
What is your top Johns Hopkins University memory to date?: Winning our second lacrosse championship during my time at JHU (2007).
What book, what movie, and what album should all students have read, watched, and listened to before enrolling in college?: I'll choose not to use all Baltimore based references here...
- Book - Choosing Civility
- Movie - The Shawshank Redemption
- Album - "Boats, Beachers, Bars and Ballad" by Jimmy Buffett